A startling report released this week revealed widespread fraud on fish labeling in the Bay Area.
Fishermen know what they've caught and distributors usually do too, but by the time it gets to consumers the fish may be going by another, higher-priced name.
Activists said they genetically tested 178 seafood samples in Northern California and 27 percent of supermarkets and half of seafood markets sold fish mislabeled under Food and Drug Administration rules.
KTVU spoke on the phone Thursday with Oceana biologist Geoff Shester, who was in Monterey.
"In the most comprehensive study ever done on seafood fraud, we found fraud rampant and widespread," said Shester.
He said red snapper was never red snapper and that 58 percent of all restaurants and 100 percent of sushi restaurants activists visited misled customers.
More than three-quarters of all sushi samples were fraudulent.
Activists said a big offender is white tuna, which they said its regularly swapped for an oily, cheaper fish called escolar. Escolar passes in taste for tuna, but can also cause diarrhea.
"I don't think it's all that surprising," said Danielle Schroeder, a San Francisco resident. "I think food labeling is a huge issue now and we're not eating what we think we are."
Oceana said consumers should ask more questions.
Many people pay extra for so-called sustainable fish.
"This fraud is really undermining the ability of this whole system to work," Shester added.
Restaurants that spoke with KTVU denied they were intentionally misleading.
There are labeling confusions between cultures and even between state and federal regulations.
Activists said they want new, tougher laws to protect consumer and the ocean.
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.